Jan 24 2010

Byrdland Guitars

The Byrdman's Byrd!

The Byrdman's Byrd!

I’m no expert on guitars in general. I love ’em and I know how to play ’em but it pretty much stops there. If you know guitars you know how hard it is to find a genuine Gibson Byrdland, especially if you are looking for a Ted-Nugent-ready Byrd. Believe it or not, Ted Nugent really doesn’t hot rod his Byrdlands. As you likely know, the Byrdland was not designed with hair raising rock-n-roll in mind. The musicians behind the guitar were Billy Byrd and Hank Garland, and they were Jazz guys. So leave it to Ted Nugent to take a Jazz guitar and plug it into a rock-n-roll rig!

What is important about the  Byrdlands, that is if you want a rip-roaring Ted-Nugent-ready Byrd, first off is the year it was manufactured. You really want to find one from the mid to late ’60s. One reason, according to The Nuge himself, believe it or not, he says the wood isn’t dry enough if it doesn’t have the age. The only argument I have with that is Ted’s Byrdlands sounded pretty Damn Good in the early ’70s!! If I am not mistaken, the pickups from that period are important too. Lastly, and I don’t think it has much, if anything, to do with sound but a Ted Nugent Gibson Byrdland Guitar is ALWAYS going to have a Florentine Cutaway. The Florentine Cutaway is the sharp point rather than rounded style toward the upper registry. The Florentine Cutaway makes it even more difficult to find this guitar.

As far as the sound goes, the bottom line is, you have to play it like Ted if you want to get that sound. If you don’t have the proficiency and feel the Ted vibe when you’re playing a Byrdland, the guitar will play you! Ted does use heavy strings, 10s, and the guitar needs to be set to pure perfection, but other than that, these are stock guitars. Oh, one more thing that is not stock. You must take off the cheesy plastic Gibson knob on the pickup toggle switch and replace it with a Gretch strap-lock knob. That’s just a good idea for any toggle switch!

I have spent decades working on my guitar skills playing Ted Nugent’s music and I still say nobody can come close to having mastered a Byrdland the way Ted Nugent has. In fact, I will say few people ever master anything the way Ted Nugent uses the hell out of every spec that can be yanked out of that Byrdland. The closer you watch him, the more masterful you realize he is with this instrument.

When I was younger, I had the original Byrdland #6 that had once, and now does again, belong to Ted Nugent. I wrestled with that guitar, occasional embarrassingly on stage and at that time hated what I now finally love about the instrument. When you plug it into a hot rock-n-roll setup, it just takes off screaming and squealing. If you don’t find out how to control the psychotic mind of its own the Byrdland has, you will find it incredibly burdensome. You have to become proficient with two major aspects of this guitar, and that is, first, volume control. If you don’t get good at using your volume control, you will have no control! The other is learning to use the feedback and keep it from sounding like a dying animal. It needs to sound like an animal high on life, not a dying animal!

Some people say there are sound differences depending on what finish you have on the guitar. I believe this to be true but have not played enough of the same models of one hollowbody guitar to confirm this. I will however tell you that Ted Nugent’s famous Black Byrdland has thick, curling, peeling, flaking paint on it, and Ted said That Black Byrdland is just about broken in as far as Ted is concerned.

You can expect to spend an absolute minimum of $5,000 if you can find one of these Byrdlands these days. If it meets the criteria and is in good or excellent condition you may see a $10,000 or $15,000 price tag on it. If you have the money to spare, I say it’s a small price to pay:) Above is a picture of me with my most recent Byrdland. This is not one that Ted Nugent ever owned. I purchased this one from Elderly Instruments. I was fortunate as Ted’s guitar man checked it out online for me and then lucky again that the same tech that sets up Ted Nugent’s Byrlands works at Elderly Instruments and set mine up for me. I told him to make it Ted Ready.

The only changes I’ve made since receiving my Byrdland is a hybrid set of guitar strings and a Gretch Strap-lock on the toggle switch. I think I am using 9 to 52. I have tried, I may be a wimp but I cannot get used to those thick higher strings.

Now that my skills have grown over many years, I love this instrument. I have many other guitars but I have had trouble putting this guitar down since I got it. You get used to the thick, rich sound that comes from it. I hate to say it, but my once favorite PRS even sounds wimpy to me now.

BMS


Jan 17 2010

The Ted Nugent Byrdman Steve Story

The Ted Nugent Collection
The Ted Nugent Byrdman Steve Story

It all began when I was 13 or 14 years old when we rode our bikes to Kmart, and I couldn’t help but notice the crazy looking Cat Scratch Fever album. I thought, who is the crazy guy on the cover, and assumed only weirdos heading down the wrong path in life would listen to this stuff!

It wasn’t long after that when a friend of mine down the street had the Cat Scratch Fever album and said, “This is awesome stuff.  Take it home and have a listen.”   I was doubtful but curious to no end, so I took it home and put it on the turntable. Might I say, I owned every available Ted Nugent release I could get my hands on within weeks. I became obsessed with this music and this individual in a way I have yet to successfully put into words. The best I can say for the moment is, it seems the music and persona of Ted is and always has been a part of me.

When I was 15 or 16 I would dream about seeing a Ted Nugent concert. I was actually worried that he might retire before I had a chance to see him live! I was proud to be the weird, obsessed-with-Ted-Nugent kid who wore a different Ted Nugent T-shirt to school each day. When I was 15 my mother and father agreed to take a family vacation in New Orleans where it just so happened The Nuge was scheduled to play at the Super Dome. It was insanity for me! Everything I had always hoped a Ted Nugent concert could be.

When I was 16 I bought my first guitar. At that time I had only one motive in mind, and that was to play Ted Nugent riffs. I had little confidence that I could do it but believed I had to try. Well, just about that time the best thing that could have happened happened. My girlfriend of the time said, “Why did you buy that guitar? You’ll never learn how to play it!”  Well, whatever that personality is that relates to Ted kicked in! I have contempt for that attitude. Even if it were true, what a thing to say! Needless to say, SHE WAS WRONG! We broke up shortly.

I continued following Ted Nugent’s every move year after year, attending as many concerts as I could, fantasizing as to how I could get back stage to meet Ted just once. I was frustrated to no end as I watched the large-breasted hot girls prance their way back stage at every concert. They didn’t give a damn about Ted! All I wanted to do was shake his hand and find a way to convey my admiration for him.

It didn’t take much to bring out in me, Ted’s rebellious yet reasonable persona as my own, and it filled an empty spot for me as a youngster.  Regardless of how it may have appeared, it was strength and confidence for me. I avoided ever getting involved with drugs and hanging with the scumbags. I was a long-haired rocker who got off on saying no to those drugged-out morons!

It wasn’t long before I was playing in local bands and we had our own music in the local record stores. Our band was famous locally for what we called the Tedly Medley. The Tedly Medley was approximately an hour of straight Ted Nugent material. That sort of thing was unheard of as a local cover band.

As all of this was going on, I had become a swimming pool contractor right out of high school and was accumulating obligations faster than fast. Trying to grow and run a successful business and pursue my dreams of being a professional musician were a definite conflict. Just to complicate matters more, my mother got sick and I lost her around this same time; I was 19.  My father was approaching his 80s, and I was compelled to stay close for him.

One of my high school friends, believe it or not, was arguably as obsessed with Ted Nugent as I was. My “partner in Ted” is Brad, the guy on the left in the photo above, and is one of my closest friends today. We used to fly to Detroit from Florida every year for the Ted Nugent New Year’s Eve Whip Lash Bash concerts.

One year we had an invitation from a German guy Brad met while networking for Nugent collectables to meet him in Detroit and come backstage at the Whiplash Bash concert and meet Ted for the first time. We were ecstatic to say the least. This was finally our time! This guy really did have backstage access that he evidently earned as one of Ted Nugent’s biggest fans from Germany. Well, to make a very long story very short, this guy turned out to be one of the most disappointing people we would ever know. Let’s just say we did NOT meet Ted.

After arriving home I wrote what would turn out to be my first influential letter. It was a letter to Ted describing how this guy took advantage of our hospitality all week long and literally slammed the backstage door in our faces due to his lack of character when we were moments away from finally meeting him. It was about 8 degrees outside.  We were devastated and freezing. Well, the letter was a breakthrough! Ted handwrote a letter back to me and said, “Leave it to a goddamn Krout and maybe next year we can exchange gifts.  I like knives and guns.”

Brad and I took this literally and decided to have a topnotch knife personally inscribed for Ted and head back up to Detroit for the next Whiplash Bash concert. The knife read “To The Great White Rock N Roll Hunter From Steve & Brad.” Well, it was our moment. There we were once again, standing at the very same door that was slammed in our faces exactly one year before. This time had to be different. Ted’s manager came to the door, he took the letter and nicely wrapped-for-the-holidays knife for verification by Ted, and returned a few minutes later and invited us in.  We had about 20 minutes of Ted’s undivided attention. It was an accomplishment for us that words could not describe. We left with a couple of photos (photo 1) (photo 2) that were invaluable to us.

The next day, if that wasn’t enough positive excitement, we walked into a dumpy little music store and, for the hell of it, I said, “Do you have any Byrdland guitars?” The guy says, “No, but the owner of the store has one that used to belong to Ted Nugent that he wants to sell.”  My adrenalin started to rush. I would have been excited to find a Byrdland guitar let alone one Ted used to own!  I said, “Okay. I want to see it.” He said, “Okay.  But he wants seven grand for it!”  I said, “I want to see it.”

I didn’t really believe he had a real Ted Nugent Byrdland but, just in case, I went to the closest bank and took a cash advance of $3,500 and was ready to make an offer. We met an hour before our plane took off in the bank parking lot. The man showed up and, sure as s#$t, if it wasn’t as authentic looking a Ted Nugent Byrdland as I could have ever imagined. It had Byrd #6 burned into the butt of the guitar and was the real deal through and through as far as I was concerned. I walked away with the guitar for $3,500.

It took a year or two, but at the next Ted Nugent concert I showed up with the guitar. Ted looked at it and said, “It’s a beautiful instrument. It used to be mine, and it was stolen from me by a former band member.” He told us the story of how and when it was taken.  After he asked who I bought it from and how much I paid for it, he signed it for me and told me to hang onto it and take good care of it.

Brad and I showed up at every Ted Nugent concert that came within three hours of our area with that guitar. It was our ticket in the backdoor every time!  Ted finally knew who I was and nicknamed me “The Byrdmansteve”.

Well, everything must come to an end or, perhaps, a new beginning. As fate would have it, one day in Tampa, FL., at a Ted Nugent concert would be the last time I would own that Gibson Byrdland #6 of Ted’s. When Brad and I met with Ted before the show, Ted showed an unusual interest in my Byrdland. He asked me if I minded if his guitar tech checked it out and I, of course, obliged.  A few minutes later his tech returned with a thumbs up and said, “It screams!” Ted handed the guitar back to me, and we headed to the front to enjoy the show.

As we anxiously anticipated the lights going down, suddenly I hear them calling for me — ME over the PA system!  This was a bit of a rush. Tens of thousands, and they were calling for me to come to the front of the stage. When I got there a stagehand said, “Ted wants to see you after the show,” and he handed me backstage passes.

During the entire show I labored over what this was all about. I don’t remember the show, to be honest. I was convinced he wanted my Byrdland, and I was freaking out, as it was the most important inanimate object in my life.  My girlfriend (now wife) was at her first concert of her life, if you can believe that, and suggested that I ask him if he has another guitar he would trade for the Byrdland.  Great idea… that is exactly what we did.

After the show we had a good two- to three-hour meeting with Ted. Toward the end of the meeting, Ted pulled out a piece of paper with his logo at the top and drew up a contract. I left there without my prize possession. I think Ted was the only person who could have taken that guitar from me without killing me first. I left with a piece of paper written and signed by Ted promising, as trade for the Ted Nugent Gibson Byrdland #6, I would receive a Howard Roberts Fusion, personal time together at Tazmania Studios, my name in the credits in the up-and-coming Spirit of the Wild album which turned out to be Love Grenade, and a lifetime all-access pass to any Nugent event until one of us dies, basically.

When we returned home I found a message on my answering machine from Ted stating, “Hello, Steve.  This is Ted Nugent.  I just wanted to thank you for the transaction. I am in the airport right now, but you take care of that good woman of yours.”  I treasured the microtape this was on for years, only to have it eaten last year when I tried to play it to transfer it.  Ted called me a day or two later when he was out in the woods, but we got disconnected.

After this event I called Ted Nugent Headquarters (Tedquarters) to check on the whereabouts of the Fusion Guitar, and it’s a good thing, too, because no one there could believe they were really supposed to send out one of Ted’s guitars to some guy nobody had ever heard of!  I received it two weeks later in a classic red Ted Nugent Flight case with the Ted Nugent logo on the side, covered only by some cardboard and tape. This guitar is the Howard Roberts Fusion that can be seen in the Ted Nugent tour book of the 1980 Nugent Nugent tour.

The next phase of this saga was not as exciting for me. I must say after receiving the guitar and the phone calls from Ted, there was a lul, to say the least. I didn’t feel right calling and being a squeaky wheel, and I allowed myself to be disappointed for many years over the fact that the other items on the list had not yet transpired. I dropped a few hints at some quick backstage meetings with Ted a few times, but nothing came out of it. I was a bit bashful about it but not quite comfortable letting it go.

After an awesome Craveman concert I had a chance, once again, to talk with Ted for only a few moments backstage but I still didn’t man up and let him know that I was frustrated about the agreement we had. So, again, nothing transpired. I decided shortly after to send a straight-up, no-sugar-coated email to Ted’s assistant, Linda. She is on the ball and very good about returning email. Well, usually she is, but this time a whole day went by, and I was wondering what was up. Well, I was at my office managing multiple phone lines when my cell phone rings on top of it all. I usually end these calls and call people back, but for some reason I answered only to hear “Steve? This is Ted Nugent,” and Ted Nugent it was. There was no denying that after only a word or two. He apologized profusely for the agreement being overlooked and said Linda would be calling me with some invites. It was exhilarating. I must say in the back of my mind I wondered if a waiting game was going to start all over again, but within about a week Linda called me with an invite to Waco, Texas, to Spirit Wild Ranch to spend the week with Ted and the band during the Love Grenade rehearsal for the upcoming tour, and I accepted. Brad and I flew out to Texas and spent four days with Ted and the band.  Four days with Ted Nugent and his band! There may be a God involved that prevented this from happening 20 years before because I would have probably keeled over just from the thought of it. It was an experience of a lifetime and certainly a whole other story for another time!


Jan 9 2010

Byrdman’sTake On Ted

ted_and_byrdman

This post is dedicated to my admiration for Ted Nugent. I have spent many thousands of hours loving and relating to Ted, his music, what he stands for, and his love and propensity for life.  I have spent an equal amount of time honing my skills on the guitar in large part, also due to my admiration of Ted Nugent. There is a special connection for me with Ted’s persona that I have yet to put into words in just the right way. If I believed in some of the kooky theories, I would say we were connected in some way, but enough of the crazy talk.

As many of you know, I have spent a fair amount of time with the Nuge as a result of dedication, persistance, a little creativity, and a little luck. Ted has been the most gracious of hosts each and every time I meet him. There is, however, something I have not been able to quite accomplish that I have always craved; that is to find a place where my years of work and skill with Ted Nugent’s material on the guitar fits in. I have had only limited moments to share my accomplishments on the guitar with Ted. When you are in the room with Ted, there seems to be a hundred other things that take priority during our limited time together than my accomplishments on the guitar.

I have realized finally that when I am with Ted, there really is no place for my skills. As accomplished as I may be, my specialty is playing Ted Nugent material, but then again, so is Ted’s. I believe that is the root of the craving that can be a frustration as well. My Ted Nugent story has been an iconic event in my life. I will cherish the experiences for ever. My respect and admiration for Ted Nugent has only grown with each and every meeting.

I have decided that if my skills have no place with Ted then perhaps they won’t go to waste if I can find a way to share them with others. I am planning on putting together what I anticipate will be an encyclopedia of The ByrdMan Steve’s take on Ted Nugent’s material. Both video and blog posts regarding Ted Nugent’s most masterful creations! Please be patient while I build this library in the spare time that I don’t have:)  I want to thank you for visiting and hope you will stick with me through this endeavor!


Nov 3 2009

ByrdBrothers

ByrdBrothers
ByrdBrothers

The ByrdView is a right wing extremist forum by today’s standards. The Byrdview endorses Godliness, good old fashioned American rugged individualism and opposition to all “political correctness”.

We are promoting the salvage of the greatest nation on record from those who are trying to purposely destroy and concur it and those too ignorant and apathetic to realize it. We are Reagan style conservatives welcoming support from any of you who truly love this country and are awake enough to choose the right side.

Be a ByrdBrother. A “ByrdBrother” is one who believes that America is the greatest force for good in this world. You must also believe that Individual Liberty  is the the path  away evil, towards goodness and of course,  a profound affection for Uncle Ted and good Rock N Roll is requested at all times:)

We welcome respectful debate and educational conversation, however, if your views, at your core, appose all that we stand for, and it is your intent on changing our minds, then don’t waste your time here.  We are a bunch of Right Wing Nut jobs as far as you are concerned. Nut jobs who’s philosophy, bravery and sacrifice made it possible for you to be an apathetic, delusional individual now supporting anything and everything un American. Yup, believe it or not, we understand you better than you understand you! But we’re not really supposed to say that:).


Nov 1 2009

Some Serious ByrdTalk!

Solving Problems Over Breakfast

Solving World Problems Over Breakfast

The story of The Byrdman Steve is a story about a young, not so impressionable high school kid who obsessed on Ted Nugent growing up. While never leaving a well grounded sense of reason and responsibility, he never grew out of this seemingly unprecedented admiration for Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent is the persona of talent, reason and logic with just the right amount of rebellion all in one violent dose! The complete story of The Byrdman Steve is a blaring example of what perseverance leads to.